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It's Time

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Avis, top, and Luther, bottom, June 27, Day 29. Just about full-grown.
June 27 2006. It’s time. They don’t want anything to do with us. I put a light in their tent all night and in the morning it’s full of craneflies and moths, gnats, mosquitoes, millers and fireflies. And that’s what they want. I zip it closed before dawn, get the phoebes from their safe harbor in our stairwell, and release them to the feast. I tickle their bills with mealworms and they seem taken aback. Why would I want that? they seem to ask, then flash away on agile wings. They land, tails bobbing, looking at me balefully. Go away. We’re feeding ourselves now.
Avis is hard to approach. That's how phoebes should be. They are the antithesis of pets.
I watch from the kitchen window as they whirl up after all the flying insects. One dips down and grabs a mealworm from the Pyrex pie plate, takes it back to the perch, bashes it and eats it. Luther bashes crickets until the legs fall off. They pile into a shallow bowl and bathe, preen, shake their feathers, and bathe again. Yes, it’s time. They’re 29 days old. Their parents would have quit feeding them by now. They seem too proud to beg even when I know they’re hungry. Their tails are almost full-length; their gape corners shrunken and almost gone. The soft phoebe chip has largely replaced the cricketlike begging calls.
It rains and rains. I hate to let them out when it’s pouring. So I hold them, hoping for a break in the weather, some sign that it’s OK to open the flaps. I guess I’m hanging onto them. I think I’m going to draw and paint them some more. I try to find the time to do that. I have to take the kids to a dental appointment; I have to do the grocery shopping; there’s a book the library is threatening to make me pay for that I must find and return. The vacuum cleaner is worthless, needs to be returned, our closet shelves have fallen down with all the clothes on them. My car needs an oil change. A hummingbird plate is due in four days. Good thing it's not a grouse plate. The kids fight incessantly. Oh. It’s lunchtime. They’re hungry, that’s why they fight. I miss my husband. There’s band practice tonight and tomorrow, a gig Saturday. We’re so rusty. How will we get up on stage? I have to dream up dinner. One more load of Bangor laundry. I want to take more pictures of the birds. There’s no light; it rains all the time. And so my mind chatters and my days piss away and the phoebes grow and whirl and hit the sides of the tent. It’s time. I have to let them go.


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